Sunday, August 29, 2010


Last night, GG and Hubby stay up watching a movie, Mummy goes to bed as Mummy has stupid freaking 4am start.

The following has been relayed to me by a stupified and chastened husband.

About halfway through the movie, GG has crashed out and is managing to take up all 6 feet of the couch, despite only being 4 foot tall.

Hubby decides he would like to partake of contraband ice cream and chocolate buttons. Hubby avails himself, first making sure GG is asleep by taking GG by the wrists and re-enacting the YMCA dance.

**Note, Hubby will now be supervised at all times, lest bad 80's dances catch on.**

***Except of course the Nutbush - that rocks***

The second hubby sits down, GG's eyes pop open and she asks, "Daddy, whatcha got?"

"Ice-cream, Boo - d'ya want some?"

Thoughtful pause...

"No - but Daddy, you have to ask before you get a treat."

"Do I? Ask who?"


Toddler brainwashing for the win.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

How do you explain?

Long time readers might remember I have an 11 year old cousin, whom on this blog I call Jewel, who has special needs. She's on the autism spectrum basically, with a diagnosis of speech dyspraxia and some muscle tone / motor function problems thrown in as well.

GG and Jewel get on famously, GG being fascinated with older kids, especially one so into music and dancing as Jewel, and I sometimes think Jewel loves GG because she doesn't have any expectations to live up to with her, plus her behaviour is often a lot better around GG, almost like she is enjoying the fact there is someone who she can be better at at different things.

The girls see each other probably a few times a week, and GG often stays over at Jewels house, where they have a great time.

Jewel asks, probably every time I see her, if she can stay at my house one night too. To date, she has only stayed a handful of times with me. Not because I don't want to have her, but because at the last minute, her anxiety gets the better of her, and she doesn't want to go.

This is rough on GG. She gets excited at the thought of having Jewel stay at our place, and quite upset when it then doesn't come to pass. It's not Jewel's fault of course, and I don't want to drag her when she clearly is upset at the prospect, although I wonder if she would have a bit of a meltdown and then be fine, if we really pushed the issue. I suspect I'm falling into the trap of thinking of her like a "normal" toddler, who doesn't want to do something, which would be a mistake. I can't pretend to know how Jewel's mind works, even her own Mum doesn't. I once said to her when we were considering this approach, "You know her better than me". To which she replied, "Well no, I don't really know her at all". I was struck with sadness at that sentence, but didn't really know what to say in reply.

Yesterday, we had another go at having Jewel come stay. Last time, speaking as if it was simply a done deal, "okay it's time to go" throwing her stuff in the car and going seemed to work. She had about a day knowing about it, which gave her enough notice that it was going to happen, but not enough time to work up a lot of anxiety about it. Well, it must've been a fluke last time, because this time it didn't work at all.

Jewel became very upset at the thought of going, yet every time we said "Okay, you don't have to then", she would immediately say she now wanted to. I don't know if she was trying to please us, saying what she thought she wanted us to hear, but then getting scared and saying no, or whether (and this is what my gut tells me), part of her does want to come stay and play with her friend, but her anxiety makes her pull out at the last minute.

Through out all this, GG had been cajoling Jewel to come with her, "Yeah, c'moooooon" and getting visibly excited that Jewel might be coming to stay. These days I prep her that it's only a maybe, Jewel might not come, etc., etc., and she is pretty good, she no longer gets too upset if it doesn't work out.

As we were leaving from Jewel's yesterday, GG seemed fine, until a few minutes after we left, her bottom lip started wobbling and she asked in a plantive voice, "Why Jewel no come stay?"

"Well, you remember that sometimes Jewel gets a bit scared of not staying in her own place, and decides not to come. You can still see her on the weekend and have a play."

"Yeah, but why she get scared? I no get scared staying over."

And there's the thing, how do you explain something as multi-faceted and delicate as autism and mental health to someone who is only 3?

I gave it a try, anyway...

"Well, Jewel's brain doesn't work like yours and mine..."

"What a brain?"

"Umm, it's what you think with, in your head, and it's how you learn things. So Jewel doesn't think and learn quite like we do, and some things that don't worry us, upset her quite a bit, like staying over. So we have to be a bit patient with Jewel, because she can't help it."

"Something wrong with her brain?"

Of course the easy answer here would be "Yes", but I don't want GG thinking there is something 'wrong' with her friend and cousin, because really, I don't like that connotation, and she won't get the subleties involved.

Instead, I go with, "No, there's nothing 'wrong' with her, she's just different. It doesn't mean her brain is worse, or better, than ours, just different. Like your dollies, Raya and Prinny, one is cloth, and one is plastic, but you love them both, even though they are different, right?"

"Oh, yes!"

"Well, there you go, Jewel is just different."

"Whycome she different?"

"Well, that's just the way God made her."

"Oh, God like different dollies too!!"

Sometimes, I really feel very small and humble when speaking to my daughter....


Thursday, August 12, 2010

You know what?? I don't care about the boat people...

Or more to the point, I refuse to submit to the scare campaign Gillard and Abbott are trying to turn this issue into during their election campaigns.

The way they carry on, you would think we were being inundated by a maruading hoard of "illegals", constantly streaming over our coastline.

It's rubbish, of course.

The human element has been completely lost on this issue, we are encouraged to think of these poor souls not as fellow humans beings; men, women and children fleeing unimaginable horror, taking a chance on a new life in what must seem like Paradise to them, but as a threat. A threat to what exactly is never made clear, but it's always easy to play on people's basic fear of the unknown and xenophobia. Plus there is always the vague allusion that every 'boat person' is a terrorist. The reality is that due to having one of the most stringent check procedures in the world, this is actually the most risky way for a terrorist to enter our country.

Let me be clear. When I say I don't care about the boat people, what I mean is I don't care about stopping them. Let them come. When I think about the conditions these tragic souls have come from, the pain, fear and horror they have seen, I want to get down on my knees and thank God I was born in 'the lucky country'.

The facts are, Australia accepts one of the lowest amounts of refugees and asylum seekers per capita in the developed world. In the last 34 years (1st January 1976 - 30th April 2010), Australia has received a total of 23,024 people. In 2008, Australia received 2,496 refugees onshore, and allows only 13,750 spaces in it's combined offshore refugee programs (run in conjunction with the UNHRC). In 2009, Australia received 6,170 asylum applications, just 1.6% of the applications received across 44 developed nations.

As reported in The Australian's article, "Whose afraid of 4,500 boat people?",  Australians shouldn't be afraid of refugees coming here, because with our geographic location, the numbers will always be small in relation to those of the rest of the world.

Graph from Chas Liccardello's tweet.
Chas is of The Chaser fame, and can currently be seen
on the political commentary/sketch show Yes We Canberra 

To put it in simple terms, at the current arrival rate, it would take 20 years to fill an MCG crowd with refugees.

And I can't believe how so many of the myths surrounding asylum seekers are allowed to persist.

Firstly, that they are illegal. Wrong. It is not illegal to turn up to a country and ask for asylum. It is not illegal to turn up without documentation and passports etc. As the United Nations Refugee Convention of 1951 explains, many of these people have no means of obtaining these, so how on Earth can we expect them to arrive like a tourist? These people are not queue jumpers - there is no queue! These people are poor, desperate and fleeing war, persecution and horrendous living conditions. I don't know about you, but if it were me, and my children, I would do whatever it took to get out, I'd hijack a damn plane myself, let alone fly here without a passport, or take a risky journey on a leaky boat made out of mainly rusty tin and duct tape.

And I am so sick of the phrase 'boat people'. For a start, over 90% of Australia's refugees arrive by plane. Of these arriving by plane, about half are granted refugee status. Of the remaining 10% who do arrive by boat, 85-98% are given refugee status. So it would seem that 'turning back the boats' would be sending true refugees back to their deaths Mr Abbott. Great plan.

 As for a lot of the other myths out there about refugees, check out this Mythbuster fact sheet from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

So enough with the scare tactics and talk about 'turning back the boats'. Why don't you try running the country effectively, and give this magnificent country a chance to provide a new home and new life to some of those who most desperately need it?


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Family First, closely followed by Evil...

If you are voting in the Australian election this August, you may be aware of the Family First Party, their current representative in the Senate, Steven Fielding. You remember him, he's the guy that opposed paid parental leave because, and I quote, "Drug addicts and welfare cheats can go out there and get themselves pregnant and then after 20 weeks have an abortion and still pocket the Government's cash".

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Umm, Senator, were you perhaps asleep during the bit where they explained that you are eligible for this paid leave only after birth? A stillborn birth may still eligible, but a late-term miscarriage, let alone a termination, would not be eligible. No? Maybe you were busy texting your mate Wendy Francis. Which is quite an acheivement actually, given that you both seem to live in the 1950's.

You may not be aware of the current Queensland candidate for the Senate, Wendy Francis. Nor was I. Until a story on and also Mamamia ran yesterday. Seems Wendy decided to share her view on same-sex couples having children via Twitter:

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Picture from the Mamamia story

When the majority of Australians (including the "mainstream Australians" who Wendy claims she is representing) reacted with (appropriate) outrage, Wendy took the time-honoured, classy tactic of ... blaming someone else. Yes, apparently "someone in her office used her Twitter account to share her views on same-sex parenting". The tweets have now also been deleted.

And when David Barrow, the Family First candidate from La trobe, Victoria, posted the following comment on the Mamamia website stating:

"My understanding of what a couple means, and my personal interpretation of Family First policy on this or what it ought to be, is that a family couple is a committed co-dependent relationship between two adults in its widest sense.

At Family First, we say that a family couple is a committed relationship between a man and a woman: Adam and Eve.

And it is also Adam and Steve — gay and lesbian couples — and Eve with Eve (even Eve with Eve if you will). So when it comes to families, Family First is a “broad church” (in the modern secular sense of that term): heterosexual, gay and lesbian couples, as well as bi, trans, and intersex.

Within hours he had been disendorsed by the Family First party.

Wendy also appeared on breakfast television last Monday, in a debate on Sunrise (I missed this because I would rather open a vein than watch Mel and Kochy chortle away, lost in their own self-congratulatory orgy). The debate was against Fiona Patten, of the Australian Sex Party, a stupidly named party apparently with it's beginnings in the adult sex industry that came about in order to fight proposed internet censorship laws, which, of course, Family First is all for. During this debate (clip below), Wendy further elaborated on her stance, and demonstated at the end her ability to neatly give a non-answer to a direct question:

If you don't want to throw something by now at her constant interuption whenever Fiona speaks, you're doing way better than me, consiering that vapid twit Mel was doing about as much moderating as a ball of wool does between two cats.

Meanwhile, I think I like Fiona Patten. If she ran as an independent and lost the Sex Party thing, she'd be a real contender.

So when it comes to filing in the Senate voting form, yes, the big fuck-off complicated white one, please be aware that if you "vote above the line", you may unwittingly be giving the Family First party more preferences than you would like. If you have no idea what "voting above the line" means, check out Julie Cowdroy's awesome cheat sheet on the Mamamia website here. I learned more in the 5 minutes it took to read this than I ever did in Social Studies at high school. There are also a whole bunch of excellent cheat sheets on hot button issues and other political topics there too.

Never has there been a better reason for separation between Church and state.

Seems like Stephen, Wendy, and their homophobic and just plain hate-filled party only care about putting familes first if you fit their bigoted, far-right conservative Christian, extremely narrow definition of a "family".


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Proud to be a Crackpot!

I don't usually like to share emails, I prefer to come up with my own nonsense drivel words, but this one is just lovely....

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An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots,each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its complishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house."

The old woman smiled, "Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side?" "That's because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them."

"For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house."

Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding.

You've just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them.

Each of us has our own journey to walk. And its the cracks and flaws in that journey that lets in enough light for us to take the next step.

Believe in yourself and follow your own path.

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So, to all of my crackpot friends, have a great weekend and remember to smell the flowers on your side of the path.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - only with lots of words...

God, I love where I live...

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See that beach? It's gorgeous, it's 5 minutes from my house and it makes it so easy to stay grateful and focus on being happy, no matter what stressful situation I'm in (which is a lot at the moment, still no work, money very tight, bills getting scary, had to give up the job in Brisbane as I would've had to be waking GG up at 5.30am, then waking up Grandma to leave her with her!!).
Thing is though, on the Gold Coast, this beach is only good for...

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Yep, it's only good enough to be a dog beach, it's not even the best we have to offer. But it's my favourite. It's not tacky and showy, like some people think the Gold Coast is. There's no posers, walking back and forth til you notice them, no drunk backpackers, no grim faced runners. Just ordinary people, their dogs, and their smiling faces.

And a Labrador who's learned to bodysurf...

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Look close; he's there, just behind the wave.

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Paddle, paddle, paddle

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